In today’s Financial Times, Patti Waldmeir and Jamil Anderlini write that China appears to be preparing for social unrest. Quoting a senior Chinese politburo member on the need to find better ways of “social management,” Ms. Waldmeir and Mr. Anderlini note that China has witnessed a growing trend of unrest in the past few months, with workers both in Shanghai and Xian clashing with police last week over unrelated disputes.
Chinese have clashed with their government before, most notably in 1989, during the Tiananmen Square protests. While generally thought of as a pro-democracy movement, the Tiananmen protests occurred at a time of double-digit inflation and slow growth, Waldmeir and Anderlini write.
With China already slowing down, it’s not hard to understand why they may be resisting pressure for them to take on the added costs of cleaning up the emissions from their factories, their autos and trucks, their electric-generation plants and so on. And yet, as talks continue in Durban, South Africa, at a climate change conference, in hopes of creating a new roadmap for reducing carbon emissions after the Kyoto agreement expires, China has started to show some flexibility in negotiations. Europe has put forward a “Durban roadmap,” which would urge all countries to reduce emissions, although at different speeds depending on the country’s level of development.